Financial evidence can be incredibly important in divorce trials. If a spouse is hiding the true value of their assets, this type of financial documentation is often necessary to ensure matters are handled correctly and fairly. Without strong financial evidence, spouses may be unable to seek adequate alimony or child support payments. In the modern era, there are many ways in which shrewd, high-net-worth spouses may try to hide their wealth or make it inaccessible to their exes. In addition, financial evidence may be very important when determining the distinction between marital and separate property, especially when assets have become commingled.
With all that said, not all financial evidence is admissible. There are certain documents that courts may not consider. In other situations, evidence that has been gathered in an unlawful or improper manner may be dismissed. So why might this happen? When is financial evidence inadmissible in a divorce?
At first glance, it might seem like financial information is unlikely to pop up in a police report. On the other hand, spouses may have engaged in white-collar crime, such as money-laundering or tax fraud. In this instance, there may be relevant financial information in these documents that could be applied to a divorce case. However, police reports are not admissible unless the author of the report (usually a police officer) is present at the trial to testify on the accuracy of the document.
The same goes for expert reports. These experts may have been hired by a spouse to conduct a home appraisal. Or perhaps they hired a financial expert to deal with certain matters. If these experts have provided written reports on their findings, these documents are inadmissible unless the author can testify in court. Letters from employers fall under the same category. With all that said, you can still compel these experts to attend the hearing with a subpoena.
Improperly Obtained Documents
In addition, financial documentation may be deemed inadmissible if it was improperly or unlawfully obtained. A spouse might try to collect financial documents and information by installing spyware on the other spouse’s computer. Perhaps they will install a keystroke tracker on the computer instead. Some may even use spoofing technology to access private voice mail or other private documents. Not only will this evidence be inadmissible, but the guilty spouse will also open themselves up to criminal charges.
In addition, a spouse cannot try to convince a third party to release a spouse’s confidential information without the consent of the other spouse. For example, a spouse might visit their ex’s employer in an effort to obtain certain financial documents. These improperly obtained documents would likely be inadmissible. Finally, it is worth mentioning that there may be serious consequences if spouses act on their own initiative without first enlisting the help of a qualified, experienced divorce attorney. In many cases, these legal professionals are the only ones authorized to collect certain financial documents due to strict privacy laws.